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Mount Washington Observatory Offers "Hermit Lake Adventure"

North Conway, NH – May 7, 2009 – It’s not everyday that an accomplished biologist welcomes the general public to tag along on a research expedition, but for one weekend in June, that’s exactly what Field Biologist Scott Smyers is going to do.

An educational outreach program of the Mount Washington Observatory, “Hermit Lake Adventure” invites members of the community to join Oxbow Associate’s Scott Smyers and Mount Washington Observatory Educator Casey Taylor June 6-7 for an overnight exploration of this high alpine pond. Located about halfway up Mount Washington at the base of Tuckerman Ravine, Hermit Lake is one of the few high-altitude bodies of water in the White Mountains.

Smyers has studied the behavior and ecology of amphibian and reptile species for more than a decade, and is excited to learn more about life in Hermit Lake. He’ll enlist your help in live trapping, dip-netting, photography, measuring animals, up-close observations of behavior, and other activities. Special dawn and dusk sessions will take advantage of certain creatures’ unique nocturnal behavior.

The workshop will meet at the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center on Saturday morning, and then depart to Hermit Lake for the weekend. En route, Smyers will discuss the ecological possibilities and constraints present in the mountain environment, as well as what types of creatures are found in the northern hardwood forest and the colder, wetter transition zone above it.

After arrival at Hermit Lake, there will be surveying and trapping, with informal educational sessions about the animals that live in this area and how they cope with the harsh environment. There will also be free time for sight-seeing, bird-watching, relaxing, and exploring. In the evening, participants will have the rare opportunity to assist with searching for nocturnal amphibians and insects throughout the area. Sunday will include a dawn session and more field time, with an early afternoon departure.

Workshop co-leader Casey Taylor notes that this trip is not for everyone. “The rough, steep hike to Hermit Lake is about two and a half miles long, gaining about 2,000 feet in elevation, so preparation is essential.”

Participants should be in good physical condition, and ready to hike the approximately five mile roundtrip to Hermit Lake with full overnight packs. To allow a focus on biological and environmental science, participants should be skilled in backcountry hiking, and be equipped to stay comfortable in all possible conditions, including cold temperatures, wind, rain, and snow. Participants are responsible for bringing appropriate clothing and equipment, as well as overnight gear and food for the trip.

To help support the scientific work of the non-profit Mount Washington Observatory and its partners, there is a fee of $120 per person, which includes a one-year membership in the Observatory. The fee for current Observatory members is $75. To register for the workshop, please contact Mount Washington Observatory Director of Programs Peter Crane at (800) 706-0432 x203 or pcrane@mountwashington.org

The Mount Washington Observatory is a private, non-profit, membership-supported organization, which has kept year-round watch on Mount Washington’s remarkable weather since 1932. For more information about the Hermit Lake workshop or other educational programs at the Observatory, including its museums, Mount Washington summit overnight programs, and outreach activities, visit MountWashington.org/Education.

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